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2011 City Guide: Youngstown

Often overshadowed by its big sister Lewiston, Youngstown is worth its own day trip. Located along the banks of Lake Ontario, the sliver-shaped village provides an excellent getaway for beleaguered urban dwellers. Certainly many make the short trip with a visit to Old Fort Niagara in mind, but even if stunning vistas and authentic reenactments aren’t your thing, Youngstown has plenty to offer.

Start with a stroll down Norman Rockwell-esque Main Street, where the village’s few boutiques beg for browsing. Behind Main you can venture along Water Street, which features (at least on the way back) a nearly vertical descent to the town’s recently retooled boat launch and docks. The quirky walk is a fun precursor to the water gazing and boat watching you’ll enjoy from one of the benches near the lakeshore. If you’re hungry you should add the Youngstown Diner (425 Main St.) to your itinerary, where home-style cooking and a pleasant atmosphere make you wonder why you aren’t in Youngstown shopping for real estate instead of tchotchkes. If you’re parched rather than starved, pull up a chair at the Ontario House (a.k.a. the Stone Jug, circa 1842) where cold beer plays second fiddle to the banter amongst regulars and staff. After lunch, hop back in the car and tool around to a few of the area’s farm stands, particularly Tom Tower’s Farm Market (759 Lockport Rd.). Each stop will make you wish you’d cleaned out your trunk and stocked your wallet with less plastic and more cash.

If you’re less of an adventurer and more likely to be spurred on by a specific event, there are a few occasions when the journey makes even more sense. Annually, the Youngstown Level, one of the largest freshwater sailing regattas in the world, transforms the picturesque country village into a veritable resort town. Over Labor Day weekend, Firemen’s Field Day looks like the best town picnic any eight-year-old could imagine with rides, great fair food, and top-notch entertainment (past entertainers include Garth Brooks, the Wallflowers, and Alabama). For more information on Youngstown and its neighbors, visit www.niagarariverregion.com.

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